Cohen Gallery is pleased to announce A Life of Reflection, an exhibition of work from four separate series from the long career of LA-based artist Arthur Taussig, from March 21 – May 2, 2015. The opening reception will be Saturday, March 21st at 7pm. Taussig will be in the gallery on opening night, and will return on Saturday, April 11th to host an intimate concert of his acclaimed fingerstyle guitar music.
A native of Eagle Rock, Arthur Taussig studied Physics at UC Berkeley before accepting a position at the Ford-Aeronautics Corporation in Orange County in 1964. After discovering Orange Coast College he began studying art and photography with John Upton, and soon went under the tutelage of Minor White, Imogen Cunningham, Jerry Uelsman, Robert Heinecken, Ansel Adams, and Paul Caponigro, among others. By 1967, Taussig had left the military-industrial complex behind and recorded his first album, entitled “Fate is Only Once.” Though the record remained obscure upon its release, it was picked up by Tompkins Square Records for re-release in 2010. Taussig played the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, TX in 2013 and was ranked among the 50 best performances that year by Wired Magazine. By 1971, Taussig had his MS in Biological Chemistry and a PhD in Biophysics, both from UCLA, and was beginning to exhibit his artwork internationally.
Taussig’s work is representative of some of the larger themes of the 1970s photography scene in Los Angeles. Photographers of this decade were determined to stretch the boundaries of the medium, to steer it away from landscapes and street subjects and toward the concerns of the era’s contemporary visual art trends. For Taussig and contemporaries like Robert Heinecken, experimental techniques and counter-cultural aesthetics became the norm.
For a series called “Signs O’ The Times,” Taussig brings a sardonic eye to street photography, capturing Southern California road signs and billboards that often seem to be a parody themselves – like a tantalizing Kent Cigarette ad next to a Mount Sinai billboard promising that pre-arranged interments unburden your loved ones. Throughout this series, Taussig employs the boundaries of the frame to cleverly emphasize the illogic of the sign’s placement, or omit the logic of it.
In a series from the late 70s/early 80s, Taussig arranges shards of mirrored glass atop the pages of his favorite art books and photographs the results. Great works of photography and Modern Art – by the likes of Mondrian, Arbus, Kertesz, and many others – are appropriated and fragmented into new images. Like a beam of light through a prism, a single image is splintered apart and spatially reordered: each part of the whole allowed to stand on its own, made to signify something new.
Also featured in this exhibition are selections of prints from two contemporary series: one is a Tarot Card deck called “The Tarot Project” and the other is entitled “The Alchemical Adventures of Alice or The Ninety-Nine Headless Woman,” and is based on Alice in Wonderland. Both series bring together images from 19th Century engravings, illustrated myths and fairy tales, anatomical atlases, cartographic illustrations, advertising, fashion, and books on art history and science. Made digitally, each collage is rich with Jungian symbology and full of allusions to literary works, scientific theories, and mass culture tropes. This series represents Taussig’s ability to keep up with new techniques, as well as his interest in the intersections of art and science.
Arthur Taussig’s work has been in numerous exhibitions and collections throughout the years: including at LACMA, The Getty, The Art Institute of Chicago, Denver Museum of Art, De Young Museum, Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University, Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Portland Art Museum, Seattle Art Museum, and the New Orleans Museum of Art, among many others.